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Defending state champs end West’s season

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By Staff Brunswick Beacon

For the second straight year, Greenville D.H. Conley ended West Brunswick’s volleyball season.

Conley, the 2007 Class 3-A state champions, beat the Trojans 25-15, 25-12, 25-21, 25-15 Oct. 23 at West.

West ends the season 18-3.

“They have no reason to hold their heads down,” West coach Leslie Reeves said. “They should be very proud. They accomplished a lot.

“It hurts, though. That’s the team we lost to last year and we wanted revenge. They know that regardless of what happened tonight, they did great all year long. That’s what they need to focus on.”

The Vikings, 21-1, advanced to the third round.

“We knew we were going to have to play great volleyball,” Viking coach Jennifer Gillikin said. “I had to have a lot of touches and blocks at the net. Our back row had to pick up a lot of hard hits. We did a good job of that tonight.”

The Vikings showed the skills of a state-championship team in the first two games. They had a lead of 11-5 in the first game, and they had leads of 14-3 and 19-4 in the second game.

“We don’t try to think about what the other team is doing except to adjust for defense,” Gillikin said. “We want to get the momentum and keep the momentum. It’s really important in volleyball to keep that momentum. Once you lose it, it’s tough to get it back.”

“They earned those points,” Reeves said about the Vikings in the first two games. “They shanked probably five balls out of the entire ballgame. Every pass went straight to a setter. They dug up everything we hit.

The Trojans got off to better start in the third game than they did in the first two games and showed they could match Conley point for point.

With the score 20-20 and Conley serving, a rare Viking error led to a sideout. Anna Hart then set Carly White for a point, and Hart followed with a service winner that put West ahead 23-21.

After a timeout, the Vikings got a point on a West violation, but a kill by White led to a sideout, and White ended the game with another kill.

“I give the girls a lot of credit,” Reeves said. “They could have given up. They didn’t. The came back and won the third one.”

“They have a great team,” Gillikin said. “Their middle hitters looked great tonight. They had a lot of kills on us. I thought they were a very well-coached team and they hustled on the court. That was very obvious.”

In the match-deciding fourth game, the Vikings were able to take advantage of West’s rotation when White was out of the game. They outscored 7-0 in taking a 14-8 lead. West never recovered.

“It was good when she got off the court,” Gillikin said. “We knew at that point we needed to score as many points as we could. She’s tall at the net and it’s tough to get up to block her because she was hitting over our blockers.”

“Carly had the best hitting game she’s had all year,” Reeves said. “They couldn’t stop here. However, she’s only on the front row for three rotations and then she’s off. Once she got off the front row, we struggled.”

Expect to see Conley and West in the state playoffs next season. Conley has just one senior on the roster and one player has already committed to play for East Carolina University.

“We have a pretty strong junior class,” Gillikin said.

She also has a confident team. The players wore T-shirts with the words: 2007 state champions, here we go again . . .

“We (graduated) six seniors last year after winning that championship,” Gillikin said. “You hear a lot of talk, ‘They’re not going to make it back, they’re not going to have a solid run in the playoffs.’ And when people make those comments, it just feeds the fire.

“These girls have played together well since August. They played together well in the offseason. They know what it feels like to win a championship. And they have nothing else in their mind right now except getting another one.”

West loses five talented seniors, but it started three juniors against Conley—middle hitter White, Keri Nolan and setter Kenzie McDuffie—so West’s prospects are bright for a successful 2009 season. But the players will have to continue to improve, Reeves said.

“Passes have been a problem all year long and it showed,” Reeves said. “That team was a better defensive team than we were, and they were consistent, passed well. That’s what wins ballgames. That’s what wins state championships.”

SW ONSLOW 3

SOUTH BRUNSWICK 2

South Brunswick’s volleyball season ended in the second round of the state playoffs after a 25-16, 22-25, 22-25, 25-20, 5-15 loss at home to Southwest Onslow.

South, the Waccamaw Conference co-champions, finishes the season 13-8.

For the Cougars, Christina Deveney scored 12 points, Jenna Kazmierczak nine and Brittany Spivey and Rheanna Lawson eight each.

Kazmierczak had 17 digs, Deveney 14, Spivey 10 and Brooke Herr nine.

Nicole Ray finished with 14 kills. Kazmierczak had 10 kills, Lawson nine and Deveney eight.

Caitlin Bevill assisted on 49 points.

MICHAEL PAUL is the sports editor at the Beacon. Reach him at 754-6890 or at sports@brunswickbeacon.com.